Modern Science Fiction: Sources and Schematic

 

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The look at James Gunn’s Modern Science Fiction: A Critical Analysis continues.

Before I start looking at the second part of Gunn’s thesis, I’m going to present his plot schematic and the anthologies from which he drew much of his material.

Sources

  • The Best of Science Fiction, edited by Groff Conklin, 1946.
  • Adventures in Time and Space, edited by Raymond J. Healy and J. Francis McComas, 1946.
  • A Treasury of Science Fiction, edited by Groff Conklin, 1948.
  • Strange Ports of Call, edited by August Derleth, 1948.
  • The Other Side of the Moon, edited by August Derleth, 1949.

Below is Gunn’s elaborate plot schematic. I won’t copy the census table where a tally is given of how many stories of each plot type show up in those anthologies.

In later posts, I’ll look at what Gunn says about some of the strengths and weaknesses, for would-be sf writers, of those plots and why Gunn chose to analyze science fiction by plot types and not themes.

Plot Types

I) Plots of Circumstance

A) A being in an alien environment

1) A modern man in

a) The past

b) A different world, space, or dimension in the present

c) The future

2) An ancient being or primitive man in a modern human environment

3) An alien in a human environment

a) The past

b) The present

c) The future

4) A future being in

a) The past

b) The present

c) A strange planet

d) Space

B) Modern man in the modern world

1) Facing a continuing problem

2) Facing a problem raised by new technology

3) Facing a problem in the mental and social fields

4) Facing problems of a new war

5) Facing problems introduced from

a) The past

b) Another dimension

c) Another world or space

d) The future

C) A past being in the past

1) Facing problems important in the history of the race

2) Facing problems similar to those faced today

3) Facing problems of no significance to those faced today

D) A future being in a future world

1) Facing problems similar to those faced today

2) Facing future problems

3) Facing problems of no significance to the present day

E) Mutations

1) Of man

a) Superman

2) Grotesque

2) Of animals or insects

a) With whom man battles for possession of the earth

b) Which take over the supremacy of the earth

c) Which cooperate with mankind

II) Plots of Creation

A) The creation of new life or new forms thereof

1) Chemical life

a) Androids

(1) Which aid mankind

(2) Which get out of control

b) Other forms created or converted

(1) Which aid mankind

(2) Which get out of control

2) Mechanical life

a) Robots

(1) Which aid mankind

(2) Which get out of control

b) Other forms of mechanical life

(1) Which aid mankind

(2) Which get out of control

B) Experiments in other fields

1) Which aid mankind

2) Which get out of control

3) Which create new problems

 

 

 

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